Maurice Sendak and Dance
I feel like we lost a part of our collective childhood yesterday when Maurice Sendak passed away. Who didn't grow up loving his slightly twisted, often hilarious, and always beautiful books?
While he was best known for Where the Wild Things Are and his other illustrated stories, Sendak contributed to the dance world, too. Today the L.A. Times remembers his set designs, which include the fantastical sets he made for Pacific Northwest Ballet's The Nutcracker in 1983. Apparently Sendak was initially hesitant about taking on the project—"Who in the world needed another Nutcracker?" he asked—but eventually he fell in love with the ballet. And thank goodness, because his designs are (predictably) wonderful. From the bold, graphic tree to the creature-like Nutcracker, they're just so Sendak. (When he saw them, New York City Ballet co-founder Lincoln Kirstein wrote to PNB: "I have seen the designs for your Nutcracker by Maurice Sendak. I thought they were absolutely magnificent and I was filled with a violent greed and envy.")
This video gives a sense of what the Nutcracker sets, which PNB still uses, look like in action. RIP, Mr. Sendak; thank you for sharing your world of wild things and wonder with us.
Well, this brings class videos to a whole new level! Choreographer Phil Wright and dancer Ashley Liai have been together eight-plus years, but she was still in total shock when he proposed to her mid-dance at Millennium Dance Complex earlier this week. Why? Well, the whole thing was unbelievably perfect.
In the dance industry, dancers don't always have a say in what they wear on their bodies. This can get tricky if you're asked to wear something that compromises your own personal values. So what should you do if you find yourself in this sticky situation? We sat down for a Q&A with "Dancing with the Stars" alumn Ashly Costa to answer that very question. Here's what she had to say about the options dancers have surrounding questionable costumes.
The groundwork for Erin Carpenter's company, Nude Barre, began when she was a teenager. At 16, she earned a spot in the residency program at The Kennedy Center in partnership with Dance Theatre of Harlem. "We were required to wear nude—as in, our actual skin tone—tights and shoes," she remembers. Carpenter brought her "sun tan" tights and a pair of pink ballet shoes with her, because that was all she could find. But she wasn't allowed in class because her dancewear didn't match her skin. "I was so embarrassed," she says. "I looked unprepared. I just didn't have the right nudes." Her teacher explained that the dancers dyed their tights and pancaked their shoes.
There are dancers and then there are DANCERS! Whitney Jensen, soloist at Norwegian National Ballet, is the latter. The former Boston Ballet principal can do it all. From contemporary to the classics this prima has the technical talent most bunheads dream about. Need proof? Look no further.
Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's dance inducing hit, "Despacito," is so catchy it should probably come with a disclaimer that warns people of an uncontrollable itch to tap your feet or bob your head. Some might even feel inclined to go all out and break it down. Niana Guerrero is a prime example of "Despacito's" uncanny ability to unleash the red dressed emoji dancer within. 💃🏽 💃🏽